Journal of Northeast Asian Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 61–74 | Cite as

Trends in North Korean foreign policy

  • B. C. Koh


North Korea’s foreign policy track record in the post-cold war era is mixed. Most notable setbacks are the diplomatic normalization between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and South Korea; the reversal of its UN policy that paved the way for the simultaneous admission of the two Korean states to the world organization; and the diplomatic normalization between China and South Korea. On the credit side of Pyongyang’s diplomatic ledger are changes in its relations with Tokyo and Washington. While tangible results have yet to materialize, particularly in North Korea-Japan relations, the groundwork has nonetheless been laid for significant improvement. North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons development program has played a major role in the unfolding of its relations with the United States. Conceptually, North Korean foreign policy can be explained in terms of its quest for three interrelated goals: security, legitimacy, and development. In the post-cold war era security appears to have emerged as the most important of the three goals. North Korea is at a crossroads. The choices it makes in foreign policy will determine not only the direction of its domestic policy but, ultimately, the survival of the regime itself. The external players in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, and Vienna (the IAEA) have varying degrees of leverage over Pyongyang’s policy as well.


International Atomic Energy Agency Foreign Policy Security Council Northeast ASIAN Study Korean State 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. C. Koh
    • 1
  1. 1.the University of Illinois at ChicagoUSA

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